“How Do Stress Affect Women?”

With how fast-paced the world has become, everyone is always stressed trying to keep up. However, the stress has become especially overwhelming for women. Trying to juggle between a career, a home and kids, all while taking care of their health, physique and overall appearance to keep up with the world’s beauty standards can become a little too much.

How does Stress Affect Women?

There are many ways that women get affected by being stressed. Sometimes the strain of life shows on their appearance, but it does, without a doubt, have an effect on their health as well. With every woman stress is masked in a different way and is also expressed in different ways.

The following health aspects can be affected as a result of stress:

1. Physical Symptoms

Depression and Anxiety

Women are at a higher risk of suffering from depression and anxiety than men. When a woman has too much on her plate and is feeling stressed for a long time, the cortisol levels in her body rise, increasing the risk of depression. When it comes to women, difficult situations such as divorce, death of a loved one or financial issues, can cause acute stress that trigger depression and can even lead to increasing the levels of anxiety and result in panic attacks.

Reduced Sex Drive

When major life events occur, it is usual to feel stressed. When moving to a new house, new city or even changing jobs, the instability that occurs can have a huge impact on a woman’s sex drive due to the impact of stress on the body’s production of estrogen. Also, increasing the levels of cortisol in the body leads to a low libido which may affect the relationship. However, eating a healthy diet and cutting back on both sugar and processed food will help improve this symptom.

Skin Reactions

One of the main body’s reactions to stress can be visible on the skin. With stress, a breakout can occur, as well as itchy rashes and hives infesting the skin. The stress causes an increase in cortisol levels in the blood, which lead to an excess of oil production. This contributes to the development of acne, especially during stressful periods, such as exams or work deadlines that need to be met. Extreme levels of stress can also increase the sex hormone androgen, which also causes an acne attack. It is said that using birth control in these cases can help ease the acne and keep breakouts in check.

Hair Damage and Hair Loss

It seems like the hair has the ability to feel when a woman is going through a tough time and reflects that feeling in its appearance. Stress can leave the hair looking dull, dry and frizzy and even lead to hair loss. When facing extreme emotional or psychological stress, a physiological imbalance occurs in the body which leads to hair loss. While the changes might not be noticeable immediately, the stress has an effect on the life cycle of the hair and causes disruption which lead to hair loss. This could be visible over a period of six months.

Insomnia and Sleep Disorders

When there is a stressful situation going on in a woman’s life, it takes up most of her thinking. It is very common for a woman suffering from stress to be tossing and turning at night, thinking over problems at work, trying to find solutions or over analyzing a certain situation that is affecting her stress levels. This in turn leads to trouble falling asleep as well as trouble staying asleep causing insomnia. However, the inability to get a good night’s rest can cause stress levels to increase as one of the ways to manage stress levels is by getting a good night’s sleep. The fatigue that the body feels for not getting enough rest during the night, can lead to difficulty concentrating, irritability and a lack of motivation throughout the following day.

Disruption in the Menstrual Cycle

When stress levels increase in a woman’s life and become acute or chronic, it can profoundly affect the hormone balance in her body. This in turn can lead to missed, late or irregular periods along with a whole lot of mood swings.

Exhaustion

Regardless of the fact that a woman’s body will be exhausted from lack of sleep, when the body is exposed to acute and chronic levels of stress, the brain limits the amount of cortisol it sends into the bloodstream, which leads to extreme feelings of fatigue and make a woman feel like it’s difficult to even drag her feet off the floor. However, exercising at least three hours a week balances the hormone level in the blood and makes the body feel a bit more energized. It is very difficult to find the stamina to start working out when the body feels so exhausted, but it’s just that initial step that’s difficult and then the body will be energized.

Indigestion and Upset Stomach

Chronic stress can have a huge impact on the digestive system as it affects the hormones released by the thyroid glands which regulate metabolism as well as many other things. It can also increase stomach acid causing indigestion, constipation, discomfort, nausea and diarrhea, and in some cases even lead to the development of IBS and stomach ulcers.

When facing constipation as a result of stress, performing any sort of exercise along with drinking fluids and adding fibers to the daily diet will help relax the stomach.

Low Immune System

Stress causes the body to struggle in regulating its inflammatory response and starts attacking itself. The body will also be extremely affected as the production of lymphocytes is reduced. When the body is stressed, the brain sends defense signals to the endocrine system which leads to a release of many hormones that severely affect the immune system. This is because it triggers chemical reactions, increases tumor development and growth, as well as increases the rate of infection and tissue damage.

Heart Diseases and Strokes

The heart rate and blood pressure in a woman’s body increase with stress, leading to more hormones being produced as the body goes into safe mode. This can not only lead to heart diseases, but can also increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes. As the muscles tighten, back aches can also surface which can be relieved by standing up regularly and stretching.

2. Cognitive Behaviour Symptoms

Apart from the symptoms that the body faces, there are also many cognitive behaviours that are affected by stress.

Memory Loss

When the brain faces a severe situation that is traumatic, the amount of stress can cause it to block out the memories completely in order to be able to survive. This happens in life-threatening situations or intense fear or helplessness as the area of the brain where the memories are stored shrinks, making it difficult to recall any facts, entire events or long gaps of time. In severe cases, the damage done to the hippocampus can affect the ability of the brain to form new memories, leading to short-term memory loss.

Inability to Focus

When the mind is stressed because of a certain problem or situation, it tends to exert all its energy and power into dealing with this issue. This keeps the mind entirely engaged and focused on that one issue at hand, that it shuts off its reception and cannot take in any new information or manage to make links or connections. The brain is also fatigued from the lack of sleep and losing focus or concentration is fairly high.

Pessimism

When stress is extreme, it is difficult to see a bright side or the cup as half-full. Actually, the brain highlights the negative aspects in every situation as it is already depressed and filled with negativity. This leads to a negative outlook on life and it makes it difficult to snap out of it as every little thing adds to an increase in negativity causing more stress and depression.

How do women deal with stress?

Binge Eating

While there are many positive ways to deal with stress, there are also common ways that are very unhealthy. Whenever a woman is stressed, anxious, nervous, she resorts to emotional or stress eating to not only suppress, but also to soothe negative feelings. This is due to the emptiness and void that is felt with stress, and the need to eat is a way to fill in this void and distract the mind. While sitting in bed and eating a tub of ice cream seems like the best thing to do in situations that are stressful, it is not always the best idea to submit to binge eating.

Eating chocolate, especially is also common as it boosts serotonin levels in the blood that help it feel relaxed. It also boosts feelings of happiness as it acts on receptors in the brain that release pleasure-generating neurotransmitters like dopamine. Not only that, but chocolate also contains caffeine which can give a boost of energy.

While chocolate can temporarily help fight feelings of stress, it contains sugar which can have a negative impact on the body’s health when eaten in large portions.

Working Out

Exercise is one of the best ways to deal with stress. While the body can be left feeling exhausted and find it difficult to collect enough energy to work out, once it is forced, the energy is maximized, the negative energy is released as the brain produces endorphins which act as natural painkillers aiding in the ability to sleep. When the body sleeps, the stress levels are reduced. That’s why it is important to constantly incorporate exercise in the daily routine to reduce and control stress levels and anxiety.

Travel

One of the best ways a woman can release stress, is by having a good time. Going on an adventure and exploring new places can help the brain to focus on taking in new information and experiences and reduce the amount of stress in the process. The energy exerted while travelling also helps reducing stress levels. Just breathing in fresh air and giving the body a chance to enjoy life can be extremely beneficial and is a positive way to handle stress.

Meditation

Meditation not only helps clear the mind, but also helps untangle the jumbled thoughts that are causing stress. That’s why meditation is used as a tool to produce a deep state of relaxation and reduce stress. It will also help regulate the heart rate and blood pressure, as well as put the body in a state of calmness. Meditating constantly is a great way that women tend to deal with stress.

Stress-relieving Habits

Not all stress-relieving habits have to be beneficial or harmful to the body, some habits are just used as a tool to give the body a break. This is because certain women find them enjoyable, therefore releasing stress in the process. These habits are quite common, like cooking, reading, playing games, watching movies, or even just enjoying time with friends. Gaming in particular is quite a popular stress reliever these days. The makers of Empire777 suggest that people under stress should pick games that are simpler. Primarily because people tend to get more stressed if they choose complicated games, and that just defeats the purpose entirely.

While certain activities may help balance their hormones, other activities and habits can put a woman in a better mood and help reduce stress, too. That’s why it’s important to have these easy stress relievers always at hand and resort to them as frequently as possible to help regulate the body when it goes into emergency mode once the stress levels are extreme.

Stress is unavoidable in life. Everywhere a woman goes there will be something or other than can cause stress. Whether it’s the workplace, a relationship, raising children, financial or health issues or even emotional and relationship issues, there will always be something to trigger and increase the levels of stress. However, in order to maintain one’s health, it is important to deal with stress in a constructive way and resort to positive habits that not only reduce stress levels, but also increase enjoyment and are a healthy stress-reliever.

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